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Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013

Schedule 2: Further provision about fixed monetary penalties under section 35

This Schedule sets out the further provisions about fixed monetary penalties.  Paragraph 1 states that an order allowing the imposition of fixed monetary penalties must provide that, where a fixed monetary penalty is imposed on a person, that person must not also be liable to criminal prosecution in respect of the relevant offence.

Paragraph 2 states that such an order may provide for discounts for early payment or interest for late payment of the original penalty.  The total amount of any late payment penalty must not exceed the total amount of the original penalty imposed.

This paragraph also provides for the enforcement of unpaid penalties (and any interest or late payment charges) through the civil courts.

Paragraph 3 makes provisions for appeals.

Paragraph 4 requires the Department, when it proposes to make an order allowing the use of fixed monetary penalties, to consult relevant organisations which it considers represent the interests of persons substantially affected by the proposals and such other persons as the Department considers appropriate.

If, as a result of this consultation, there are substantial changes to any part of the proposals, the Department will be required to undertake such further consultation on the revised proposals as it considers appropriate.

Paragraph 5 provides that an order enabling the imposition of fixed monetary penalties must also require that the Department publishes guidance in relation to the use of these powers (“penalty guidance”).  The Department must revise the penalty guidance where appropriate, and must consult specific persons before publishing or revising it.  The order must also state that the Department should have regard to the penalty guidance when exercising its functions.

The penalty guidance must contain information about the circumstances in which the sanction is likely to be imposed, the amount of the penalty and the person’s right of appeal.

Paragraph 6 requires that where the Department makes an order enabling the imposition of fixed monetary penalties in relation to an offence, the Department must prepare and publish guidance regarding the manner in which the offence can be enforced (“enforcement guidance”).  The enforcement guidance must set out the sanctions for committing an offence, the action the Department may take and the circumstances in which the Department is likely to take such action.

Paragraph 7 provides that any order enabling the imposition of fixed monetary penalties must (unless inappropriate to do so) require the Department to publish information concerning its use of those powers in cases where either a fixed monetary penalty has been imposed (but not overturned on appeal) or liability to a penalty has been discharged by payment of a prescribed sum.

Paragraph 8 permits those persons listed in sub-paragraph (2) to disclose information to the Department.  Information may only be disclosed where the person listed has an enforcement function in relation to offences and for the purposes of the Department exercising the powers in section 35.

The police will not have access to the new enforcement powers, however if, for example, they have begun a criminal investigation but consider that it no longer merits a criminal prosecution, this provision would allow them to pass information to the Department so that it could determine whether to issue an alternative sanction.

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